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Hollywood Forever Cemetery removes Confederate monument

The front gate of Hollywood Forever Cemetery is pictured on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
File: The front gate of Hollywood Forever Cemetery is pictured on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

In the aftermath of the violent Charlottesville protests, Hollywood Forever Cemetery has decided to remove a 6-foot-tall Confederate monument early Wednesday morning.

The monument honors 30 Confederate soldiers and their families who moved to Southern California after the Civil War. It was removed at 4 a.m., according to NBC 4.

"We received the most calls about people wanting the monument taken down. And we explained to them we were researching the legal aspects of it," said cemetery co-owner Tyler Cassity to KPCC media partner NBC 4. "Some people said if you don't take it down, we will. We did have also some vandalism. Someone took a black marker and wrote 'No' across the monument."

Theodore Hovey, Family Service Counselor at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, told KPCC that the monument is believed to be the only monument to the Confederacy in California. He said that in light of recent events in Charlottesville and "the atmosphere in the country," the cemetery decided it was best to remove the monument.

"It is open to the public during the day time so there were concerns that it might be too incendiary a presence for us to maintain the peace and tranquility in the cemetery," Hovey said.

The monument is owned by the Long Beach chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It has served as the centerpiece of Confederate memorial events for decades, although no flags are allowed there.

A spokesperson for Daughters of the Confederacy explained her feelings. She wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. 

"All we wanted was peace, quiet as we had for many years," she said. "But the cemetery ... cemeteries should be respected." 

The monument will be put into storage later Wednesday.

Kevin Waite, an assistant professor of American history at Durham University in the United Kingdom, talked to Alex Cohen on Morning Edition. Waite has written a book about slavery and the Civil War in the American west, but he also wrote an editorial in the L.A. Times arguing that the monument at Hollywood Forever should stay. He said L.A. has historical ties to the Confederacy.

“The history goes all the way back to at least 1850, when California was a fairly pro-slavery state in its political leanings despite banning slavery in its constitution 1850. At the outbreak of the Civil War, there was quite a bit of Confederate agitation in L.A. in particular," he said. "Over the course of the war, about 250 Angelenos fled L.A. for the Confederacy, and then a number more stayed in the state and sort of agitated behind Confederate lines. As a result, Union forces constructed a garrison just south of LA known as drum barracks to sort of tamp down on this Confederate activity in the region."

To hear the rest of Alex's conversation with Kevin Waite and his thoughts on the Hollywood Forever monument, click on the play button above.